Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath tells Hindustan Times in an interview about steps taken to control the Covid-19 spread, lockdown measures, and the concerns of migrants. Edited excerpts:
How many tests per million are being conducted now, and what measures are being taken to assess the spread of the virus?
The whole country is fighting against coronavirus under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. We are in a battle to save humanity.
In the last one month, only 200 tests could be performed in one lab; today 14 labs are functional and 2,500 tests are being done. UP is the first state to start pool testing. We have identified and sealed hot spots in every district.
Many migrant workers who are back may not be able to go back to their jobs after lockdown. How will the state take care of thousands of unemployed people?
During the lockdown, and after it, the state government will try to accelerate infrastructure and labour projects that provide maximum employment in a short time. Along with this, we will bring in more and more labourers under MNREGA. The state government is also working on other schemes. We have constituted 11 committees to draft a policy to strengthen the economy after the lockdown, and to further extend employment activities.
How will the lockdown extension impact the state economy?
We are working on a long-term strategy. Policies are being formulated in keeping with the PM’s message of ‘Jaan Bhi, Jahan Bhi’. Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya is heading the committee to restart construction work on major projects of expressways, highways, PWD, and major works of other departments. A committee headed by finance minister Suresh Khanna will offer recommendations on which services to carry forward to maintain revenue receipts, and measures for the industrial sector and MSMEs. We have also started work to ensure that farmers do not face any problem in harvesting… We have started purchasing crops at the minimum support price from April 15.
Are there specific sectors in which you need the central government’s assistance?
The package announced by PM has provided great relief to Uttar Pradesh. Whatever further steps need to be taken will depend on the recommendations of the 11 committees.
There were complaints regarding police action during lockdown.
The UP Police are doing a commendable job. People have come to see the humane face of the police. If during a lockdown, a person gets involved in any prohibited activity, police will take action. In the Tablighi Jamaat case, the police came forward and demanded their cooperation. But in many places, they faced resistance, so they took action to stop community transfer.
There are difficulties in the food supply chain. In western UP, cane farmers were ready for sowing. What steps are being taken to ensure there are no disruptions?
There is no food supply problem. We have enough ration…Anyone not getting ration, is given ration… We have allowed farmers to go to the field for sugarcane harvesting… Permission has been given to open seed and fertilizer shops. Not a single farmer in UP will face problems.